13 April 2021

LEGO® NINJAGO® review + MOCs: 71719 Zane’s Mino Creature & 71721 Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon

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Aron Gerencsér (@_pohaturon) reviews two 2020 LEGO® NINJAGO® stes today as well as building his own models using some of their parts: 71719 Zane’s Mino Creature & 71721 Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon. Buying these sets? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.

LEGO® NINJAGO® has been spinning for a decade, and over the course of ten years we’ve seen nearly twice that many subthemes, with the latest having been a dungeon crawling fantasy adventure inspired by tabletop RPGs. 71719 Zane’s Mino Creature & 71721 Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon are two of the bigger sets in the wave, both featuring the “game experience” gimmick prevalent in it. 

Rolling a party consisting solely of thief-sorcerer multiclasses is a bold move. Let’s see if it works out for the ninja or if they get wiped by the boss. 

The Parts

Between them, 71719 and 71721 have a decent crop of new moulds and interesting recolours. If you’re into minifigs, the selection of characters is broad and the ninjas feature a rather unique new design. 

New Parts

The new moulds, like so many other things, appear in both of the sets. First up we have Wedge 4 x 3 No Studs Stepped, which debuted in this wave of Ninjago. Since then, it has appeared in the first batch of LEGO City sets in 2021 filling the role of a truck grille as opposed to being armour of some kind. We get 8 of them in Black (6301371 | 66955) with Zane’s Mino Creature, to which this colour was exclusive prior to the City outing, and 2 in Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray (6301368 | 66955) with Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon. Fellow New Elementarist Kev Levell took a closer look at the new mould when reviewing 71720 Fire Stone Mech

Since he already examined the layered armour mould in great detail, I decided to focus on the other new mould - one that I doubt we’ll see again in any other theme, but I hope to be proven wrong. 

Facilitating the game experience gimmick and upholding the tradition of Ninjago spinner elements is Human Tool Dice Spinner with Hexagonal Dots, Hearts and Skulls Pattern in Black (6300075 | 66962) - though it is actually dual-moulded in both Black and White. Four sets from this wave each include one of this exciting new piece, so I had two to experiment with.

The spinner element is 5 modules tall and 7 modules wide at the top. The angle at which the sides lean outward isn’t in the LEGO System, and it won’t fit snugly next to any element. The closest thing to a match are wedge plates placed vertically right next to the spinner, but the angle is off just enough to skew the wedges. On the bottom we get 2 x 2 antistuds arranged in the same way we’d see on a typical 2x2 round plate, and on the inside we have two studs next to one another, separated by a small dividing wall intended to increase the clutch power of minifig legs.

The intent is to place whichever minifig you are playing as inside and give it a good spin, with the pictograms on the six faces of the dice determining what your throw results in. In practice this works… dubiously, and the little divider limits connections - you need to place one round plate on each stud to “unlock” full 1 x 2 functionality. That said, the mould is surprisingly versatile despite being so thoroughly specialised, as we’ll dig deeper into later. 

71721 also features brand new cloth parts to - ironically - flesh out the wings. Builders prove time and again that cloth parts can always be used in subversion of their intended purpose, so I fully expect to see these appear as sails on a ghost ship, or as some kind of clothing in a MOC sometime. 

Recolours and Noteworthy Pieces

The colours utilised throughout the Master of the Mountain wave are uncharacteristically muted for the theme, so most of the recoloured pieces we find in 71719 and 71721 are black or white, with a few exceptions.

Three tiny tidbits debut in Black for the first time in Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon:

  • 4 x Bracket 1 x 1 - 1 x 1 in Black (6299338 | 36841) - this piece simultaneously appeared in 6 other sets in the latter half of 2020.
  • 4 x Arm Skeleton Bent with Clips at 90° [Vertical Grip] in Black (6302313 | 33449), also appearing in two other Ninjago sets from this wave.
  • 4 x Bone, Short in Black (6310908 | 93160), ditto.

Evening out the colour scale, 71721 also gives us three White recolours, and some in Transparent Bright Green to add some vibrancy:

  • 3 x Hinge Plate 2 x 4 with Articulated Joint - Female in White (6310912 | 3640), exclusive to 71721.
  • 2 x Wedge 2 x 2 Pointed with Stud Notches in White (6301907 | 66956) which appears in 4 other sets. This particular curved slope is an interesting new addition to the parts palette that our Zachary Hill examined in great detail.
  • 3 x Slope 45 1 x 1 Double in White (6286834 | 35464).
  • 1 x Rock Boulder, Bottom in Transparent Bright Green/ Trans-Bright Green (6299469 | 28696) and its counterpart 1 x Rock Boulder, Top in Transparent Bright Green/ Trans-Bright Green (6299470 | 28686), pieces which have great sentimental value to me - I just refer to them as Pohatu’s boulder.  

We haven’t mentioned 71719 yet because it shares almost all of its recolours with the Dragon, as you’ll see here:

  • Minifigure, Plume Feather Triple Compact / Flame / Water in Transparent Bright Green/ Trans-Bright Green (6323685 | 28661) - we get 1 in 71719 and 3 in 71721, with the piece appearing in every other set in this wave, among others released concurrently.
  • Tile, Round 1 x 1 Heart in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6301811 | 39739) - we get 3 in 71719 and 10 in 71721. This too is a common piece across Ninjago sets from this wave.
  • 2 x Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Bar Handle on Side with Free Ends in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6279731 | 2540) in 71719. Only one other set, the Fire Stone Mech we spoke about earlier, has this piece, and in greater quantity too with 24.
  • 1 x Minifigure, Weapon Sword with White Skull Pommel and White Blade (Ivory Blade of Deliverance) in Black (6300095 | 66954) - both sets get one each.
  • 3 x Wedge, Plate 7 x 6 with Stud Notches (Boat Bow Plate) in Light Bluish Gray (6038296 | 50303) in 71719. This piece is neither new nor exclusive, but noteworthy since it has only ever appeared in the two UCS renditions of the Imperial Star Destroyer prior.

I was very impressed by the low number of both printed pieces and stickers in these sets, proving that the designers managed to achieve the desired shaping and detailing with the pieces themselves. The only printed piece in 71719 that isn’t a minifig accessory makes clever use of part geometry, too. 

  • 2 x Tile 2 x 3 with Metallic Blue Rhinoceros Eyes Pattern in Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray (6302983 | 67982), exclusive.
  • 1 x Brick 2 x 2 with Lime and Yellowish Green Dragon Eye Pattern on Two Sides in White (6310879 | 67985), exclusive.
  • 1 x Minifigure, Head Modified Skull with Black Eyes, Nose and Mouth Pattern in White (6309089 | 68952).
  • Minifigure, Shield Round with Rounded Front with Black and Gold Ninjago Lion Head Pattern in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6302878 | 75902pb17), 2 in 71719 and 1 in 71721.
  • 2 x Minifigure, Shield Round with Rounded Front with Black and Silver Ninjago Dragon Head Pattern in Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver (6302892 | 75902pb17) in 71721.

Finally, here are the refreshingly minimal sticker sheets. 

These mostly apply to the game experience with the stickers serving as labels for the platforms to indicate what effect they have on your character. I left those off, but did apply the stickers to the flags which added the symbols. 

The Minifigs

These two sets give us a nice selection of villains, including the big bad Skull Sorcerer, as well as a nearly complete set of ninja. Only Lloyd is missing, as is Master Wu.

The ninjas adopt a far more armoured look than before, looking more like knights or paladins than stealthy, athletic martial artists. This is reflected in their shield accessories, torso prints with metallic armour motifs and heavier weapons. Minifigure, Armor Large Round Shoulder Pad Right with Back Stud in Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver (6301362 | 65435) and Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6301364 | 65435) as well as the dual-moulded Wrap with Breathing Mask are new, and I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter them again in a fantasy theme. 

71721 also includes a training dummy minifigure that represents a stone statue, as far as I gather. The villains mostly sport new colours only, with two identical skeletons coming in black. Of great interest is the Minifigure Headgear Hat Conical Asian with Raised Center and White Mask With Large Black Eyes Pattern in Black (6301366 | 66959), an impressive looking dual-moulded element.

The goblins debut a recolour of the dual-moulded elf hat with ears in Dark Brown and Medium Lavender . 

The Builds

There is a great deal of similarity between these sets in terms of build process and even some of the construction. In both cases we get a small bit of volcanic scenery to facilitate the board game aspect, which is built first, followed by a creature that comes together torso first, then limbs. With the limbs, both are mirrored left to right and the front set are 1) built second and 2) have fixed shoulders. Both also sport play features that require some Technic integration in the torso. Even more, they don’t share any minifigs, and with one ninja creature and one villain creature, it’s like these two were meant to square off against one another!

71719 Zane’s Mino Creature

Zane’s Mino Creature only features a small watch tower to pull board game duty, and the build comes together fast with a little tipping platform up top. We also have little “character sheet” stands that appear in both sets, with three gold heart tiles indicating health and a little crate to serve as an inventory, I assume.

The real attraction here is the huge armoured rhinoceros. The Minotaur of legend was half-bull, half-man so I don’t really get the LEGO naming scheme here, but this is as minor a nitpick as can be. As the torso comes together a mechanism based on Technic liftarms grows out front and centre onto which the head will be later affixed. Pressing the large lever in the creature’s back causes it to thrust its horned head upward. 

The forelegs have disc launchers integrated into the armoured section, but completely lack movement aside from the ball-jointed ankles. The rear legs have some better articulation, but it is rendered moot by the forelegs, since there’s only so many ways you can pose the rear ones without the creature becoming unstable or looking like it just escaped a Monty Python skit. 

The only building technique of interest is the way the 3 x 2 tiles with two eyes printed on each are integrated. Wedge 4 x 4 Fractured Polygon Top in Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray (6172134 | 28625) is used to give the creature’s cheeks some texture while also hiding the lower vestigial eye print. 

71721 Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon

The build process for 71721 is almost the same, just with more and different parts. First, a bit of volcanic board game scenery, then a creature torso with Technic bits up front. Again, the forelegs are locked at the shoulders - in the same way too, using a pair of Technic connectors attached to axles coming out of the torso - but we get an elbow and articulated toes this time. A pair of round tile launchers are attached at the base of the wings and pressing a pair of liftarms on the dragon’s back opens the exposed ribcage to drop the transparent green boulder, which splits on impact to deliver a payload of spiders and black bones. I’m going to assume this is a scare tactic as opposed to an actual attack.

The finished models look fantastic and I’m again impressed at how little they rely on prints and stickers. The Skull Sorcerer’s perch on the dragon’s back looks mighty precarious, but I guess he just uses magic to stay there in flight. Of the two, I’d say Zane’s Mino Creature looks better overall. We don’t often see an armored war rhinoceros and the set feels suitably imposing. Meanwhile the dragon’s limbs need to be sturdy enough to support its weight, and as a result their bulk is in conflict with the whole skeletal theme. Nonetheless, the brick built head is fantastic and the green highlights really make the whole model pop. I find it hard to fault either set for any of their design decisions, even the lack of articulation in the shoulders, which serves stability.

Aron Gerencsér's MOCs using 2020 LEGO NINJAGO parts

Pretty as the Mino Creature and Skull Dragon are - they really do make for great display pieces, especially when arranged like they’re fighting - I couldn’t wait to tear them apart and delve into the opportunities presented by the new elements. Finding new ways to use the dice spinner element was the driving force behind most of these builds, and I started off with a pair of smaller tablescraps.

Dungeons & Daffodils

In the same vein as my exploration of the energy burst element not too long ago and inspired by the recently released 10280 Flower Bouquet I decided to try it out as a flower. Maybe I should start a Ninjago/Botanical Collection crossover? 

Fishing Hut

With “every piece is a flower piece” out of the way it was time to test the other tenet of ancient AFOL wisdom which states “every piece is a roof piece”. The dice spinner does pull this off, even though it is scale-locked. I’d love to see someone more comfortable with LEGO System microscale to use it as the roof of a hut or a tower.

Fae Lancer

In the time that the Master of the Mountain sets have been available, I’ve already seen several MOCs that used the dice spinner as a skirt element on a humanoid build. Since it’s been done already, I opted to use it as a different piece of clothing instead - a hat. This character’s mask was directly inspired by Skull Sorcerer’s and uses the same technique I used on my Bio-Cup 2020 entry Yee Naaldlooshii. A pair of tiny stickers from a Speed Champions set can be folded and used to attach tiles to a Constraction armour piece. It sure isn’t legal, but it is purist!

Makuta Kopona

This MOC is accompanied by a bit of a history lesson: in 2008, the first wave of Bionicle sets featured bat-like Makuta as villains with a play feature wherein they could drop pods from their exposed ribcages, triggered by pressing a part of their backs. This was instantly where my mind went when I saw 71721’s play feature, so naturally I had to adapt the set into a pseudo-Makuta. I tried to challenge myself to use as many pieces from the set itself as possible here. The wings are unchanged, the arms are the minimally modified forelegs and the tail uses unchanged modules with the last block slightly modified to connect elsewhere. In contrast, the torso uses the original prefab element used by the 2008 Makuta sets and, coincidentally, the transparent green boulder fits the opening where the intended pods go.

The dice spinner has its chance to shine here too, with two placed on top of each other to form the head of a mace. This shape also somewhat evokes Darth Vader’s meditation chamber from Star Wars, but lacking any relevant minifigs I opted against building a little scene including that. 

Farseer Patrol Craft

While not a new piece or particularly special, 71721 was my first time encountering Projectile Launcher, 4 x 2 x 1 with Bottom Axle, despite it being the subject of a past Parts Festival here at New E. I’ve been playing copious amounts of Elite Dangerous recently, which led to the building of this small ship MOC not unlike one featured in the aforementioned Parts Festival


71719 Zane’s Mino Creature and 71721 Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon are a fantastic pair of sets which hit all the right notes and pack a balanced offering of features making them appealing to kids, adult fans and builders alike. While a little limited in articulation and colours, both completed models achieve impressive results in the looks department without a reliance on stickers or prints and have an enticing selection of parts between them - I’m a huge fan of the dice spinner element. There’s also a decent lineup of minifigs if you’re into that and the game experience gimmick adds some extra play value. 

I do hope that sometime in the future we get a sturdy and poseable joint solution that doesn’t balloon the build size to solve these articulation issues though. MOCs did it, but keep in mind that set designers are greatly restricted by various rules and regulations!

READ MORE: LEGO Minifigures 71030 Looney Tunes review - plus MOCs, by Thomas Jenkins

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1 comment:

  1. I think the name "Mino" is less intended to evoke the Minotaur than that it's a "mine rhino".

    Anyway, good review! I appreciate you including a video of the Mino's function, which seems like a lot of fun despite its simplicity. The MOCs you created also do a great job putting the parts (new and old alike) to good use. The club made with two back-to-back dice spinners is particularly clever!